A suspenseful story as well as a fascinating depiction of the mechanics of money laundering, the largely unfamiliar world of...

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BONES

BROTHERS, HORSES, CARTELS, AND THE BORDERLAND DREAM

A deep dive into the world of the Mexican drug cartels and their unexpected relationship with quarter horse breeding and racing in the southwestern United States.

In his first book, former Dallas Observer editor Tone concentrates on the span of time between 2008 and 2013, and he ably keeps a large cast of characters in play. Chief among these are brothers Miguel and José Treviño, FBI agent Scott Lawson, and horse breeder Tyler Graham. He emphasizes the contrast between Miguel and José. Miguel, who later called himself “Quarenta” or “Forty,” became the infamously violent leader of Los Zetas cartel. Meanwhile, José crossed the border to the U.S. to work as a mason and become an American citizen. However, after he had been in America decades, he suddenly started purchasing racehorses for large amounts of cash, including a young stallion nicknamed “Huesos,” or “Bones,” for his gawky build. The FBI, in a team led by newbie Lawson, who had recently moved to Texas, began investigating the strong possibility that Forty was using his brother to launder drug money. In the process, Lawson recruited Graham, who ran the ranch that housed Huesos, as an informant. Throughout the book, Tone maintains a vivid and balanced narrative; he tells the story clearly, relatively objectively, and without oversimplification. The author is somewhat hampered by the fact that only Lawson would consent to talk with him, which makes the agent come across as the most well-rounded and sympathetic character. However, Tone does his best to understand the other people involved, using thorough research to get a palpable sense of their lives and motivations.

A suspenseful story as well as a fascinating depiction of the mechanics of money laundering, the largely unfamiliar world of quarter horse racing, and the dynamics of an extended family, the book draws readers into the complexities of life at the border.

Pub Date: Aug. 8, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8960-1

Page Count: 368

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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